The 13th General Assembly Meeting of the West Africa Network for Peace-building (WANEP) is underway in Accra to see how best to build capacities for conflict prevention in the sub-region.Emmanuel Bombande

It is on the theme: ?WANEP Transition from Programming to Visioning in Support of ECOWAS and the African Union Peace Architecture?.

The four-day meeting, which brought together participants from the West African sub-region and beyond, is significant in the evolution of the institution; the many strides it has chalked inspite of the challenges as it continues to position itself as a professional and credible African driven institution.

On one hand, 2015 marks the beginning of a new Strategic Plan ? 2015 to 2020, that will guide the work of the organisation for the next five years. The new strategic plan is aimed at transforming WANEP from a ?project driven to vision? organisation.

Mr Emmanuel Bombande, WANEP Executive Director Emeritus, in his farewell address on Tuesday to the General Assembly, said WANEP was started 16 years after the two-year research phase in 1997-1998.

?We designed programme activities with particular emphasis on building capacities for conflict prevention in West Africa. This went along with institutional building and the early stages of building the partnerships with ECOWAS. This has since developed into a unique strategic relationship,? he said.

He said the recurring theme in any good African context analysis always pointed to weak or ineffective institutions as a key challenge in the transformation of African countries.

?We are blessed with abundant resources, we have great talented people but we have not built strong institutions. Our institutions have often been weak and sometimes ineffective,” Mr Bombande said.

?I am truly humbled to have contributed in the founding of a great institution and provided leadership built around collegiality,? he said.

He extended WANEP?s appreciation to its strategic partners who were integral to the organisation?s success story.

He mentioned that the increasing threats around the sub-region was now being compounded by violent extremism and the potential threats of escalated violence in some countries.

?While we continue to do our best to predict and anticipate escalated violence and how we can prevent such violence as it happened in October 2014 in Burkina Faso, some incidences are much more difficult to predict such as the three days of rioting in Niamey, Niger as a reaction to the events precipitated by the Charlie Hebdo Magazine cartoons,? Mr Bombande said.

He said: ?These threats all point to one thing. We have to be reinforced in our collective resolve to ensure renewed commitment to the strengthening of WANEP and other civil society organisations (CSOs) into effective and well-functioning institution??

These institutions should complement the efforts of governments and partners in providing the short, medium to long term responses that are home grown in contributing to peace and human security.

Mr Bombande said one particular area that required attention to build preventive capacities of African countries was to promote national infrastructures for peace in each country.

?It is when these national infrastructures are in place and functioning well that we can truly establish linkages and synergies between these national processes to the regional and continental peace and security architectures,? he said.

Dr Samuel G. Doe, UNDP Senior Policy Advisor, and a former WANEP Executive Director, said the WANEP?s success story was achieved by hard work and determination by the founding fathers.

WANEP Board Chairman, Mr Michel Sodjiedo Capo Mian, lauded Mr Bombande for his exemplary leadership qualities in peace-building in Africa.

Mr William Awinador-kanyirige, Ghana?s High Commissioner to Nigeria and Ambassador to ECOWAS, recommended the formation of a strong strategic partnership between ECOWAS and WANEP.

Ms Lena Schildt, Counsellor, representative of the Swedish Government, gave the assurance that her country would continue to support the activities of CSOs like WANEP in promoting peace-building at both local and national levels.


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